Farm Again


By Rebecca Brightwell, Farm Again Staff

The brain is somewhat like a muscle: The more you use it, the stronger it gets. Many factors contribute to age-related memory loss including genetics, environment, and lifestyle. There are several strategies to compensate for memory loss:

  • Keeping track of dates, schedules, tasks, phone numbers
    • Leave yourself notes or make checklists.
    • Put appointments and important dates on calendars and in a day planner or electronic organizer.
    • Ditto for phone numbers and other contact information.
    • If you have trouble remembering how to do something, write down the steps.
  • Keeping track of dates, schedules, tasks, phone numbers
    • Set an alarm clock or timer to remind you when to leave for an appointment or do something in your home.
    • Use a map to help you get from one place to another.
    • Enlist friends and relatives to remind you of where you need to be and things you’re supposed to do.
  • Learning new information
    Work on your ability to focus your attention and screen out distractions:
    • Listen closely when someone talks to you.
    • Repeat back the information.
    • Try to talk with people in quiet places.
    • Focus on one thing at a time.

Color coding proved an effective strategy on one horse farm. One of the young men that works on the farm has a cognitive disability. He is responsible for feeding the horses each day. There are several different types of feed that the horses are given. The young man often forgot the number of scoops and mixture for each horse.

Color horse feed scoopsA simple solution was to use color coding. Each grain barrel has a unique color stripe to identify it from the other barrels. The scoops in each barrel matched the barrel color. Finally, a sign was placed above each horse stall showing the number of scoops by color each horse required.

All of the workers on the horse farm said they benefited greatly by this simple and yet effective color coding technique.

Use It or Lose It

When it comes to memory, it’s “use it or lose it.” Just as physical exercise can make and keep your body stronger, mental exercise can make your brain work better and lower the risk of mental decline. Here are some ideas for brain exercise, from light workouts to heavy lifting:

  • Play games that involve strategy, like chess or bridge, and word games like Scrabble.
  • Work crossword and other word puzzles, or number puzzles such as Sudoku.
  • Read newspapers, magazines, and books that challenge you.
  • Get in the habit of learning new things: games, recipes, driving routes.
  • Take a course in an unfamiliar subject.
  • Take on a project that involves design and planning such as a new garden.

Developing and maintaining social relationships

People who don’t have social contact with family and friends are at higher risk for memory problems than people who have strong social ties. Social interaction helps brain function in several ways: it often involves activity that challenges the mind, and it helps ward off stress and depression. So join a book club, reconnect with old friends, visit the local senior center. Being with other people will help keep you sharp!


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